The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that North and South Korea have agreed in principle to field a joint team for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. The two Koreas may also field a team for the 2006 Asian Games in the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), China. This would be a progressive change from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, when the two Koreas marched together during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies yet participated separately in Olympic sporting events. Many people are hopeful and at the same time skeptical that a joint team will materialize, given North Korea’s penchant to waffle on these kinds of agreements and tendency to demand parity with South Korea. South Korea fielded five times more athletes during the 2004 Summer Games and are generally much more competitive than the North Koreas in most sports, so North Korea will likely need to relinquish any demands for equal representation for the agreement to work. It’s unclear whether they will agree to that.
I think this is an interesting development. It’s yet another part of a movement towards increasing engagement between the two Koreas. While I’m not convinced that it will lead to reconciliation of this divided nation, it is one more way in which the two countries can work towards healing their nation. For better or for worse, there is undoubtedly some propagandic purpose behind the agreement, but good will still come of this experiment if North and South Korean athletes can join together to train and compete together on the same team. There are currently so few cultural exchanges between the two Koreas that it is refreshing to see cooperation extended beyond political engagement and economic ventures. The two countries will find it very difficult to reunite in the future if they do not pursue cultural convergence.
Blog Notes: Thank you for the birthday well wishes! My family and I went out for a quiet dinner on my birthday.
Note to Exiled_attorney1: I know what you mean about using the word "Caucasian" to refer to "whites." I’m not Georgian, Armenian, or Azeribaijani, so why am I a "Caucasian"? I don’t think I have any historical connection to the Caucasus Region. I personally think that "European American" would be more appropriate if other racial groups are called "African American," "Asian American," "Pacific Islander," etc. But there’s no way I could convince the U.S. Census Bureau to change its bureaucratic mind. The term "Caucasian" is more appropriately used with the anthropological terms "Mongoloid" and "Negroid," but for obvious reasons those terms fell into disuse, while the term "Caucasian" is still going strong. Life isn’t fair sometimes, and both "life" and "fair" are four-letter words!